Finding the Perfect Home to Rent

Rethinking your present living situation? Trying to search for the perfect rental home that will fit your lifestyle and budget? Help make your hunt smarter and more efficient by following these steps:

STEP 1: Discover what you can actually pay.

Before looking for a place to rent, check your budget. Find out where most of your hard-earned cash is going. Generally, you should be spending no more than 30% of your earnings towards rent or housing costs. Is this doable? Remember that you have to include grocery costs, transportation expenses, and other expenditures. You have to factor in utility costs as well, not unless your landlord has these included in the rental amount.

You might be thinking how is 30% doable? You may want to consider checking out Section 8 housing program. It is a federal program managed locally by public housing agencies that assist low-income individuals or households in paying for rent. This program has housing vouchers that you can use almost anywhere in the country. Or you can opt for the project-based rental assistance which is attached to certain properties, where you as a tenant can receive housing assistance as long as you are living in the unit receiving the benefit.

STEP 2: What are the features you are looking for?

Aside from the standard bedroom and bathroom count, consider what features are must-haves versus nice-to-have. Features like:

  • fireplace
  • electrical outlets
  • a full bathroom, or just a shower
  • gas stove in the kitchen
  • deck or patio
  • your own yard or shared outdoor space
  • ground floor unit or units on higher levels

Consider things you are willing to give up as well. Like having a park nearby, but the living quarters are much smaller. Or living with a roommate to help pay the rent in a more pricey neighborhood that you like.

STEP 3: Outline your day.

Consider everything in the areas you are interested in. Check-out delis, grocery, farmers market, shopping center, public transportation, schools, clinics, restaurants, and other things. And it is important to check the area's’ crime rate as well. So that you can choose to live in the area but do something to protect your family and property. Like choosing to live in a building with a 24-hour security among others.

STEP 4: Pick your rental type.

How big should the place be? How long is the lease term you want? You can consider properties from apartments, single-family homes, townhouses, to sublets.

STEP 5: Undertake the application and approval process.

After following the first four steps, you have finally decided. Now it's time for the background check, negotiate with the landlord, pay the deposit, and understand and sign the lease. Once everything is settled, you can now move into your new home.